In awarding or determining child custody, the court will always act in what it believes is the best interest of a child. In general, this means the court will carefully consider the fitness of a home; whether a child has special needs; if there is a history of domestic violence; the emotional involvement of a child with each parent; the nature of sibling relationships; and, in the case of older children, a child’s preferences. As such, custody decisions are not based solely on financial considerations or which parent has more income. For these reasons, it is essential that the court understand your relationship with your child and why he or she will be better off in your custody or maintaining a relationship with you.
At the family law practice of CraigAnninBaxter Law, our attorneys work closely with you in order to protect the best interests of you and your children. When necessary, we work with child psychologists, counselors, social workers, and other professionals in order to build your case and protect your parental rights.
Our Child Custody Practice
We counsel and represent clients in regard to the following:
- Sole or physical custody
- Joint custody arrangements
- Adoptive parent child custody rights
- Visitation rights granted after a paternity test
- Custody rights in same-sex relationships
- Grandparents custody and visitation rights
In child custody cases involving divorce, parents have the option of working together to formulate a child custody plan they believe is in everyone’s best interest. While subject to final approval by the court, working together with your soon-to-be ex-spouse allows you to create a child custody arrangement suitable to your unique situation rather than leaving it to the court to decide. Here, you can craft joint custody or visitation schedules in light of work commitments, holidays, birthdays, summer vacations, healthcare needs, religious observances, and other considerations. With input from both parents, a child custody plan is less likely to be emotionally and physically disruptive to you and your children.
Grandparents’ Rights in Custody and Visitation
Grandparent visitation is governed by statute in New Jersey, with the Grandparents and Siblings Visitation Statute requiring a showing of “particularized harm” to a child if grandparent visitation is not allowed. In the 2003 New Jersey Supreme Court ruling in Moriarty v. Bradt, the court determined grandparent visitation rights cannot be awarded by simply arguing a grandchild’s biological parents lack requisite parenting skills. Grandparents applying for custody or visitation must establish that their grandchild will suffer harm without grandparent visitation. In 2013, the New Jersey Appellate Court reaffirmed the principles set out in Moriarty in an unpublished decision involving L.A.B. v. B.L.P. and C.J.B.
We are intimately familiar with the provisions of the Grandparents and Siblings Visitation Statute, as well as court rulings based on the statute. We can review your situation and determine the best way to proceed in order to establish your visitation rights as a grandparent.